Steadfast Love in Trying Times

I wonder if I can be the only person struggling to accept that it is already nearly the end of October? That person I’ve written about in this column before, the one who is turning up the speed of time, seems to be putting in some extra work at the moment.

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This year, though, the acceleration of time has had (for me at least) the character of a very long journey by plane or bus or train. You start off wondering how you’re ever going to get through it, then gradually settle into a weird kind of semi-hypnotic state – a travel trance, you might say.

For me, living in Covid-world has induced a similar frame of mind, one in which the days are too much alike, and the weeks pass by in a haze, like fields zipping past the window of a train. It’s not that I haven’t been busy. It’s just that life and work has missed those moments of arrival and departure that normally punctuate our existence, and become one continuous exercise in simply ‘keeping going’.

There are seasons like this in the life of faith, sometimes very long ones. These are periods of time in which we are called not to progress or success but rather to faithfulness and steadfast love. It is a mistake, St Ignatius teaches, to make major changes in such times. These are times for patience, endurance, times to tend what we have and wait for God’s future to be made clear when God reveals it.

The Bible tells us that the ‘steadfast love of the Lord never ceases’. Like the thrumming of the jet engines of a plane making its way from London to Sydney, we can begin to tune it out, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. God’s love is continuous, and every bit as relentless. And, like those engines, it is what keeps us alive.

So while these are uncomfortable times, and rather boring, there is a wonderful reassurance in recognising that God’s loving presence is not ‘here today, gone tomorrow’. It is, rather, the one constant thing in the universe, the truth without which nothing else is true, the light without which everything else is dark.

In today’s gospel reading Our Lord reminds us that the whole of God’s will for us is summed up in one word: ‘love’. God’s love for us is to be reflected in our love for God and for one another. As we continue to travel together, we give thanks for steadfast love that never ceases.

May God bless you all,